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What is Keyboard Accessibility?

Jul 7, 2017

Web accessibility is essential to connect markets and people of all walks of life. Many users have motor disabilities that restrict them to keyboards alone for website navigation. For websites that are vital to their health care and assistance programs, keyboard accessibility is especially crucial.

What a Well-Designed Website Should Do

Many individuals are simply unable to make use of a mouse, and the reasons vary widely. The cause of the difficulty is unimportant. The focus is and should be on the solution: bringing the full functionality of the internet in all its professional, creative, and interpersonal potential to everyone, regardless of age, gender, or disability.

There are several chief functions that every website up to proper accessibility standards should have, and you should check for them all and correct any malfunctions or absences.

Firstly, every link, control, and feature on the website must be accessible by the tab key. And secondly, there must be a clear visual indicator of which element has the current focus so users know which link or control they’re selecting. Further, the best pages will always comply with WC3 standards, which pertain to interactive features, such as dropdown menus and modal dialogues — essentially anything that a comprehensive widget would cover.

How to Make use of Keyboard Accessibility

It is important to note that keyboard accessibility utilities are different between Mac and Windows operating systems. We will go into a few of the key distinctions as we list some of the most common keyboard shortcuts. Often, keyboard shortcuts are actually faster than using a mouse, and they’re also nearly universal, meaning you won’t have to remember a different set of keyboard shortcuts for different websites and applications.

Here are a few of the most common Windows shortcuts:

  • Control+X — Cut selected text.
  • Control+C — Copy selected text.
  • Control+V — Paste selected text.
  • Control+F — Keyword search.
  • Control+T — Open a new tab.
  • Control+N — Open a new browsing window.
  • Control+R — Reload the current page.
  • Alt+F4 — Close current application.
  • Alt+Tab — Switch between open tabs.

These are just a small selection of common and possible keyboard shortcuts, just enough to give a general idea that whatever a mouse can do, shortcuts can often do just as well, if not faster. Mac shortcuts are very similar in structure, usually just exchanging the Alt or Ctrl keys for the Control, Option, or Command. And there are many resources, such as Computer Shopper or GCF Learn Free for discovering keyboard shortcuts and their variations for any platform.

As vital as it is to access and navigate webpages, it’s just as important to be able to get out, so beware of Flash, JavaScript, and autoplay features for a fully keyboard-friendly website

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